Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jimmy Carter to North Korea to secure release of American Aijalon Mahli Gomes

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is planning to go to North Korea this week in the hopes of securing the release of an American man imprisoned for illegally entering the communist nation, officials said.

Sources described the trip as a "private humanitarian mission" to free Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 31-year-old Boston, Massachusetts, resident who was sentenced in April to eight years at a hard labor camp for illegally crossing North Korea's border with China and for an unspecified "hostile act."

A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said: "President Carter fits that role perfectly."

"He is someone in a position to take action as a distinguished international figure," the official said.

Carter will travel in his capacity as a private citizen and no U.S. government official will be on the trip, the sources said. They added Carter had contacted the administration of President Obama about the mission.

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